BOOK REVIEW-Emboldened by Rev. Tara Beth Leach

A woman, Mary Magdalene, was the first to proclaim the risen Savior on Easter over 2,000 years ago. So I thought it would be fitting to discuss a book all about women in ministry & pastoral leadership this Easter Sunday, 2018.

The book Emboldened by Rev. Tara Beth Leach is one of my favorite books! She writes in a conversational, very inviting, non-judgmental tone which is so nice to read. She speaks with both love & truth! I would like to note that although it is taking about women in ministry, it is written for both men and women and I would recommend anyone in ministry or considering ministry to read it.

The foreword of Emboldened is written by Scot McKnight and he says a profound statement, “How can young, gifted women know there is a place for them on the platform if they don’t hear stories about women ministering?” Well Rev. Tara Beth does just that. She saw what was missing and wrote this outstanding book.

One thing I love about this book is right at the beginning she brings up how Jesus sees, affirms, & emboldens women. She says, “Jesus boldly affirmed the value & worth of women, & appointed them to be colaborers in the mission.” She emboldens women by reminding them that women are among the priesthood of ALL believers as stated in Galatians 3:28.

All throughout the book you can tell that Pastor Tara Beth finds her confidence in the Lord and that is very encouraging and creates a great perspective.

She talks about how God doesn’t just work within our human made stereotypes, but that God works everywhere! Something that she wrote that really resonated with me and blessed me while reading was this paragraph:

“You see, our femininity is not rooted in ideology or cultural norms but in our humanity, which is firmly rooted in the humanity of Christ. The life, death, resurrection, and ascension of King Jesus informs our identities. We sometimes bear children & sometimes we don’t, but childbearing isn’t our identity; instead, our identities are ordered in the saving and transforming activity of the triune God”

In many church settings, a woman’s worth is centered around being a wife and mom, which are both amazing things, but that excludes so many women and is not a woman’s greatest/only calling. I’m so thankful Pastor Tara Beth stated that in her book!

In chapter 4, she discusses what to do when people don’t affirm you or are opposed to your calling. She has a very positive outlook on this and focuses on not being bitter, which is what many people fall into. “However, the moment I decide to let anger and bitterness deep into the very depths of my being is the moment I lose sight of what I was called to do in the first place” She mentions that there will be people who are against you and that it is good and important to know your theology but that it is also equally importantly trust the Holy Spirit.

Our culture is very self-minded, we are competitive and often hurt others to boost ourselves. However, Rev. Leach has a whole chapter dedicated to women encouraging and emboldening one another-not something we often hear, but something we NEED to hear.

Although I love every chapter, my favorite one is probably chapter 6. It is all about singleness, family, and marriage. She talks about how God uses and emboldens single people whether or not they ever get married in the future, Christ sees value and uses them to further His kingdom. Pastor Leach talks about marriage and especially mutuality and mutual submission. She discusses the mom guilt and difficulties you may face as a mother and a pastor. It was so refreshing! These are things I have worried about and thought a lot about and it encouraged me so much to read. She also has a section in that chapter written to Pastor’s husbands, in which she encourages them, and discusses the difficulties but also amazing things they will see and be a part of. Reading her words to Pastor’s husbands literally brought tears to my eyes!

In our self-focused society, we often forget about the mission of God, but Rev. Tara Beth does not. She reminds us that God’s kingdom is one of inclusivity and acceptance. She has this quote which floored me when I read it,

She didn’t keep on so she could prove to the world that women belonged in the pulpit, but she kept on because the mission of God needed to continue.”

We often get caught up in the craziness of life, but our focus should be on God’s mission.

Pastor Tara Beth has a whole chapter dedicated to men and how they can embolden and come along side women together to better further the kingdom of God. If you are a man in any ministry, please read this book but especially that chapter!

I could go on and on about this book, but I will finish with a final quote from the book Emboldened,

“Now is the time, dear church. Not tomorrow, but now. Now is the time for women to claim their full callings and be freed from gender-based restrictions. Now is the time for women to rise up and use their God-given gifts with boldness. Now is the time for the church to no longer be lopsided, but to move forward in it’s full potential, with men & women serving alongside one another-unhindered. Now is the time to be the church we were meant to be-a sign & wonder.”

Rev. Tara Beth Leach links:

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

BUY EMBOLDENED HERE

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Tears, Emotions, & Prayer

All too often we try to shut down our emotions and pretend they don’t exist, especially in church settings. However, I, as a human, am an emotional being created in the image of a God who also has emotions! So why do we keep acting like emotions are taboo?

Over the past year, I have dealt with some pretty hard, sad things. People super close to me have too. I have had many times that I went to pray about it and I literally couldn’t do anything but cry. But here’s the thing, I believe that those tears were prayers too. Those tears, God understood. Even in the Bible, Christ showed emotion! We read in John 11:35 that, “Jesus wept”. Not just shed a tear, but WEPT!

That is why I believe that tears on the altar are one of the purest forms of worship.

Jesus said in Luke 10:27, “…love the Lord your God with all your heart, and will all your soul, and with all your strength and with all your mind…” Our minds control emotion, and our hearts break, so I believe giving our emotions to God is worship and God honoring.

Sometimes our prayers will just consist of tears and hurting, and that’s okay. Sometimes our prayers will be very deep and articulate, and that’s okay. Sometimes our prayers will be awkward and uncomfortable, and that’s okay, because God doesn’t mandate what our prayers look like, and He Himself created us to be diverse and to have emotions.

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”

‭‭[Psalms‬ ‭56:8‬]

The Conversation in the Library

Story time.

This past Monday I was at the local community college where I take some dual credit classes. I was in a group of people talking in the library. One of the men asked me what my major will be when I attend university in the fall. I replied, “Theology & Pastoral Ministry” and proceeded to tell him I was called to be a pastor. I wasn’t sure how he would react because it’s a sensitive topic. He began speaking about how he is trying out different churches and how it seems like there are so many denominations. I agreed. We discussed some of the differences and somehow got onto the topic of Complementarianism vs Egalitarianism (one of my favorite topics to discuss) and we had similar views on this (both egalitarian).

He then asked me a question I wasn’t expecting, “So how do you think racism affects the church?” I gave him my answer which went into how it creates injustice, hurt, and turns people away from the true love of Christ. He proceeded to ask me another question, “How are these people in churches justifying their racist beliefs and actions?!” I could tell he was speaking from experience and wanted to know how I, a white Christian, felt about it. We discussed many things but ultimately our main answer was that people twist scripture to fit their lifestyle, motives, or personal agenda instead of taking Jesus and scripture and letting that shape your actions and lifestyle.

It was a great conversation about gender and racial equality in the church. How it is right and more often, how it goes wrong. I’m writing this to let you know that people deal with racism and gender inequality all the time in church. It hurts & confuses people, and definitely doesn’t draw people close to Jesus. If you have never discussed problems within the church, now is a great time to start asking those tough questions. We NEED to have these conversations more and actually change our actions to combat injustice. We NEED to be showing the love and the actions of Christ in church, and the world around us. Our God is a just God, so maybe we should try to be a just people as well.

-Madison💛

The Lie Christians Should Stop Saying

Unfortunately there are many things we, as Christians, say that aren’t true. “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Is one of the biggest lies I’ve ever heard told in church and Christian communities. It is not a statement ever found in the Bible or backed up by biblical truth. I think we say this as a way of lying to ourselves because we are afraid of trials and tribulation. Which WILL happen. That is in fact biblical and told to us many times. In fact, I personally believe that God will and does give us more than we can handle. Not because He hates us or is punishing us, but because it forces us to depend on and trust in God during these situations. It refocuses our mind back onto our Almighty God and makes us realize we CAN’T do things alone. We need God. When we go through these trials that are more than we can handle, God is going to be there with us the entire way if we seek Him and ask for help.

“My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge.” {Psalm 62:7}

Apathy & Christianity

The dictionary definition of the word apathy is “a lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern.” But a better definition is “people just not giving a damn.” Apathy is one of the great evils in this world and its terrifying how many people live in this life of just not caring.

The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” -Albert Einstein. The first version of apathy is: Apathy toward the world. An example of this is someone not caring for injustices that are hurting the world and the people around us. Or when people don’t bother to help those in need either because they don’t care, or they say it doesn’t affect them. The people who usually read my blog are Christians so I’m going to assume the person reading this is familiar with the Bible and the stories of Jesus. Think about every story in the gospels when Jesus is there. The LAST thing Jesus would ever be is apathetic toward the people around Him. “The greatest cruelty is our casual blindness to the despair of others.” -Anonymous

There is a second version of apathy I want to talk to you about and it is just as bad-if not worse- than the first one. It is: Apathy towards God. What does that look like? Well it can come in many forms from not caring about having a relationship with Christ, to not having the want to share the Gospel. The most common form of apathy towards God from Christians is not caring about God’s mission or purpose for the world or us. Jesus spoke to His disciples in John 21:16-17 saying, “16Jesus repeated he question: ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ Peter said, ‘you know I love you.’ ‘Then take care of my sheep,’ Jesus said. 17 A third time he asked him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, ‘Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Then feed my sheep.’” I think it is pretty clear what God’s mission is for us. To care for others, to share the Gospel, and to love others.

Here’s the thing, there really isn’t two versions of apathy. They are intertwined and go together. By truly seeking God and caring about His mission for the world, then you definitely won’t be apathetic toward the world, considering Christ’s mission is ABOUT THE WORLD! The greatest commandment in the entire Bible is to love one another, and if you love one another, you will have an interest, enthusiasm, and concern for the world- you won’t be apathetic towards it. “If your theology doesn’t lead you to love people more, you should question your theology.” I am sure many of you have heard the term “Christian Activists” before. There shouldn’t be people labeled “Christian Activists”! For we should all be Christian activists! We should be active Christians. Active in exemplifying the character of God and seeking justice for the world. Here is a link to a speech made by Charlie Chaplin. I highly encourage you to watch it because it is so moving & is still relevant today. My favorite quote from it is, “We think to much, and feel too little, more than machinery, we need humanity, more that cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness.

I challenge you to evaluate your life and see if you are an apathetic Christian. Because it is easier than you think to slip into the selfish world of apathy- of not caring. This is exactly what Satan wants. He wants a bunch of Christians sitting on their butts NOT caring, NOT proclaiming Christ, NOT striving for justice, NOT bettering the world, NOT being on fire for God. So I beg you, don’t fall into that trap